Rachel Maddow calls out the Republicans for their rank hypocrisy from everything from the stimulus bill to cap and trade to pay-go to the deficit to
February 23, 2010

Rachel Maddow calls out the Republicans for their rank hypocrisy from everything from the stimulus bill to cap and trade to pay-go to the deficit to the bank bailouts. Rep. Barney Frank weighs in and as usual doesn't pull any punches when calling the GOP out for their double talk. As Frank notes, there's a difference between someone who votes against something and admits they didn't like it but still wants their district to get some money, and someone who tells you something doesn't work and then takes credit for it and asks for more money. When the Democrats are going to quit acting like the Republicans are honest brokers when it comes to running our government in any way shape or form is beyond me. They don't care about governing. They care about breaking the bank and proving government can't work so they can privatize everything no matter how much more it costs us.

Transcript via MSNBC below the fold.

MADDOW: That last report, pigs have not flown, but those were two Republican governors. Florida‘s Charlie Crist and California‘s Arnold Schwarzenegger admitting that the stimulus spending President Obama signed into law a little over a year ago—a year ago—which both of those governors supported, has worked to create jobs. And they say they‘re happy to have the money. They‘re happy to have those jobs in their states.

Today, Bloomberg News added to the long list of Republican elected officials who are only willing to admit the stimulus worked some of the time when they‘re trying to get more of that money—even when they‘re trashing it as useless, while the TV cameras are rolling.

Consider just as one example from today, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: Clearly, it has not helped jobs, has added to the debt.


MADDOW: It clearly has not helped jobs. That‘s what he says on the TV machine.

Ah, but look what he says in a letter describing a stimulus-funded highway project for his state—which he says, quote, “is expected to create 5,789 new jobs in the I-73 corridor region.”

You see that stimulus? It‘s magic. It both creates 5,789 jobs in Lindsey Graham‘s state and it creates no jobs when Lindsey Graham is on television. It‘s magic—magical hypocrisy.

But it‘s not just the stimulus. Consider the case of Minnesota‘s Governor Tim Pawlenty, widely believed to be setting himself up for a 2012 presidential run. Since his ambitions became national, Governor Pawlenty has done a complete 180 on the issue of climate change, going from being a proponent of capping greenhouse gases to being a climate change skeptic. And now, to being a full-on opponent of cap-and-trade, which is the thing he used to before.

Let‘s start with a new Pawlenty.


GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA: There‘s no question the climate is changing, but the more interesting question, is how much of that is manmade versus natural causes? And the way that you address it is we should all be in favor of reducing pollution, but we need to do that in ways that don‘t burden the economy. Cap-and-trade, I think, would be a disaster in that regard.


MADDOW: Cap-and-trade, a disaster now.

But it was just a couple years ago when Tim Pawlenty took leadership on creating a regional cap-and-trade system in the Midwest, saying at the time, quote, “If you unleash the requirements and incentives and attractive features of a market, people will respond to it. Some will respond by reducing pollution directly. Others will respond by buying credits or offsets in the market place with the ultimate same net effect.” Which is cap and trade, which he now says would be a disaster.


PAWLENTY: Cap-and-trade, I think, would be a disaster.


MADDOW: Wait. What year is it?

Then there‘s John McCain who has just reversed himself on yet another in a long line of issues. He‘s reversed himself just in the past few months on PAYGO, on cap-and-trade, on a deficit commission, on “don‘t ask, don‘t tell.”

Now he‘s reversing himself on the bank bailout that he voted for during the campaign in 2008, today, telling the “Arizona Republic‘s” editorial board that he was misled into voting for it. He accuses then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke of misleading him into believing that the bailout was really for something else when—shocker—it was actually for Wall Street.

We asked spokespersons for Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke to give us their recollections about that today. We‘ve had no comment so far.

Senator McCain also straining credulity by claiming it was not his decision to suspend his presidential campaign in 2008 in order to rush back to Washington to deal with the financial crisis. Senator McCain told the “Arizona Republic” that that was President George W. Bush‘s idea, telling “The Republic,” quote, “I don‘t know of any American when the president of the United States calls you and tells you something like that who wouldn‘t respond.”

True in theory. However, it does not seem to be what happened in this case—at least according to two separate books recounting what happened during that same time period. From Henry Paulson‘s book, for example, quote, “This was supposed to be McCain‘s meeting. He called it, not the president, who had simply accommodated the Republican candidate‘s wishes.”

Also from the campaign tell-all, “Game Change,” quote, “In the car, he

meaning McCain—called Bush and informed him of his decision and asked if the president would host a meeting at the White House for him.” We called President Bush‘s spokesperson to get President Bush‘s recollection of how this all went down but, yes, he‘s declined to comment so far, too.

Joining us now is Congressman Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for coming back on the show. Nice to have you.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.

MADDOW: At the time that Senator McCain called off his campaign in 2008, you called this campaign suspension the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys. Any comment on the idea it was President Bush who asked Senator McCain to suspend his campaign?

FRANK: I‘m—I‘ve gone beyond being disappointed for John McCain to feeling sorry for him. This is such a pathetically, obviously untrue statement. Those of us who were there know it.

He was in trouble on the campaign. He was trying to change it. In fact, there was a very tough bipartisan negotiation going on. And by the way, for him to blame Paulson or Bernanke is cowardly. This was Bush. Paul and Bernanke were acting for George Bush.

And we believed that we had to do something. Democrats were pushing to add some restrictions on compensation. We‘re adding to put in those provisions that ultimately led to the TARP being paid back with a profit, but we did agree something had to be done.

Everybody was trying to get a solution, from the president to the members of Congress who were trying to work on this were unpleasantly surprised by John McCain‘s announcement. As a matter of fact, if you read what Paulson says, at one point, he came to find there had been an agreement, he was unhappy, because he wanted to be the one who did it. I said he reminded me of kind of Andy Kaufman as Mighty Mouse. “Here I come to save the day.”

So, no. John‘s recollection there—I mean, it‘s not his recollection. It‘s an invention. Look, he‘s got a very conservative primary opponent. He voted for the TARP money. He clearly supported it. And he‘s now just trying to reinvent history, but it‘s unseemly for a man like that to blame other people, because he changed his mind for political reasons.

MADDOW: We are seeing this pattern come up not just with John McCain but with a lot of—a lot of Republicans in office right now who are dealing with a very conservative base. Tim Pawlenty thought of as being a policy wonk, a thinker on some issues, now abandoning a lot of his old ideas—all of this on the stimulus, more than a hundred members of Congress found to be trashing the stimulus and saying it doesn‘t work while they‘re also saying that it does work in their home districts.

Well, everybody keeps telling me the hypocrisy doesn‘t matter as a charge in Washington, that everybody is too comfortable with hypocrisy for that to be embarrassing anymore. What do you think?

FRANK: I don‘t think that‘s true. And it goes beyond hypocrisy, Rachel. But you‘re right, it‘s hypocritical. Although let‘s put this way:

if I vote against a program and I think it‘s fraud, that doesn‘t mean the people I represent who have paid their share of tax money for it should be denied it. So, I‘m not objecting to someone who votes against a program and says, but you shouldn‘t exclude my district from it.

But there are two fundamental problems they‘re talking about. One is, when they try to take credit for something they tried to kill. And that‘s where the hypocrisy comes in. They go to the announcements. They go to the shovel—the breaking dirt. They‘re the ones who try to give that impression.

But even more profound is the way you put it. I‘m glad you‘ve done this. They are contradicting themselves. It‘s not just hypocrisy. It is blatant intellectual dishonesty.

What they are doing is going—taking credit for the creation of jobs which they claim were not created. They are acknowledging when they do this that the stimulus does create jobs and then they say that it doesn‘t. I mean, that‘s the fundamental issue.

Sure, you have a right if you vote—if you‘re a member of Congress and you vote against a program, that doesn‘t mean your particular area should be enfranchised. But denounce something as having no effect and then going—taking credit for that very effect whose existence you denied is a mistake.

And there is one other great inconsistency. You and I have talked about the need to reduce military spending. And I disagree with President Obama‘s exemption of the military. You know, as I‘ve noted the other day, we still have three ways to drop thermal nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union: intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear submarines and the strategic (INAUDIBLE). Given the fact that there is no more Soviet Union, I‘m going to be radical and say to the Pentagon, why don‘t you pick two of the three and save us billions of dollars?

But the problem is, when we talk about reducing unnecessary planes like the F-22, et cetera, guess what the conservatives say? It‘s jobs. So, apparently, when you spend money on weapons that the Pentagon doesn‘t want and take money from more important things for the soldiers in the field, that creates jobs.

So, the hypocrisy about when you do and don‘t create jobs is a central one. And you‘re exactly right. They say that the stimulus didn‘t create jobs and then they acknowledge that it does and want more trying to create more jobs.

MADDOW: And I‘m—I‘m very glad to hear you explicate essentially that important difference. I have never been complaining about and I think that people, by and large, aren‘t complaining about people taking money for their districts.

FRANK: Of course.

MADDOW: It is not they are making the claim for the money by saying -

by talking about how effective the stimulus is. And for me, the real conundrum this creates for Democrats is: how do you negotiate with these people? How do you negotiate with somebody who believes that the sky is both blue and green, about sky color? I mean, if you don‘t have any real beliefs about policies, then how can you negotiate on policy?

FRANK: Well, I want to go beyond that. You can‘t.

And here‘s the deal, and I don‘t usually make this accusation. I think it‘s very clear that the dominant people in the Republican Party—and you correctly noted this—not every Republican was very much on the right wing but they are now all afraid of them. The mass cowardice of what used to be moderate Republicans in the face of the conservative Republicans has caused a problem.

And here‘s the deal—they know very well that the stimulus creates jobs. And let me say this, that‘s one reason they‘re against it, because these are people who want Barack Obama to fail, who want the notion that we can come together in what we call government and respond to our common problems and improve the quality of our lives along with some of the things done in the private sector—they want to discredit that notion. They discredited it when they‘re in government by doing it so badly. Now, they want to prevent us from succeeding.

And I honestly believe—you know why they switched on the deficit reduction commission? They don‘t want the deficit reduced. They would rather blame Barack Obama for it. And they don‘t want jobs created.

So, the answer is, they know that jobs are being created as they acknowledge and if it‘s already been voted on, they‘ll try and take some credit for it. But, in fact, they really this—I hate to have to say this. I‘ve never said it before, but the dominant Republicans today do not want Barack Obama to succeed either in job creation or deficit reduction, and that‘s why you get this intellectual inconsistency. It‘s not intellectually inconsistent—it‘s dishonest.

MADDOW: Congressman Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee—it is a great pleasure to have you on the show as always. Thank you.

FRANK: Thank you, Rachel.

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